New Orchestra and Chorale Programs at Powers Highlight Benefits of Music Education

New Orchestra and Chorale Programs at Powers Highlight Benefits of Music Education

Belmont, MA – October 23, 2013

Powers Music School in Belmont is making a case for the importance of music education in the community with the addition of new orchestra and chorus programs for young and old this fall, including the Massachusetts Youth Symphony Project with Senior, Junior, and Preparatory Strings levels for ages 8-18 and the Powers Festival Orchestra and Harmony Chorale for adults.

Executive and Artistic Director of Powers Music School, Helen Clapp Stevenson, believes the new programs offer students, community members, and audience members invaluable skills and the chance for lifelong learning and joy.

“I really believe that music is crucial to a child’s growth and development, and gives adults a really good opportunity to have fun while continuing to learn,” says Stevenson. “Our mission at Powers is to instill a lifetime of appreciation for music in the community, because music brings us together and brings us joy, whether you are playing an instrument for the first time, picking up where you left off from years ago, or are simply listening as an attentive audience member.”

In a 1993 Gallup study, 95 percent of Americans believe that music is a key component in a child's well-rounded education (“American Attitudes on Music, Music Making and Music Education,” The Gallup Organization 2003). And a recent New York Times article examined the link between music and professional achievement (Joanne Lipman, “Is Music the Key to Success?” Nytimes.com, 12 October 2013).

Students and parents will find the goals of the new orchestra and chorus program conductors to be perfectly in sync with the Powers mission.

George Ogata, conductor of the Massachusetts Youth Symphony Project Senior Orchestra, was thrilled to lead the creation of the youth orchestra program at Powers after finishing 17 years as conductor of the Longy Youth Chamber Orchestra (LYCO) at Longy School of Music at Bard College. As Longy recently closed its community and youth division to focus on conservatory programs, Ogata saw an opportunity to inspire, build character, and rekindle the joy of music for young musicians looking for a new outlet.

Says Ogata, “This new musical force, epic in its visionary calling and delivery, will herald a new era of ensemble team-building, cutting-edge and experimental approaches to education, and resulting dynamic performances. Partnering with Powers Music School, both in affiliation and in philosophy, I'm building on my 17 years of experience in nurturing the region's finest youth talent, focusing not only on the highest standards of music-making -- inspiring the passion it needs and deserves -- but also the development of character in all of my students, my greatest priority.”

Stevenson states that music and ensemble playing develops many of the skills that kids would gain in sports and other activities. “Participating in an orchestra or chorus group not only teaches students about music, but it gives them confidence in their ability to create something together, which translates to school, work, and other activities. They develop social skills, motor skills, performance skills, teamwork, and dedication, just as they would in sports,” she says. “Our students are often balancing 3-5 different activities every week, and music can make a positive contribution to all of them, whether the student wants to pursue music professionally or is just interested in casual learning.”

The excitement of new music in the community is not limited to kids. Adults can partake in the Powers Festival Orchestra or Powers Harmony Chorale, both open to musicians ages 16 and above looking for a chance to continue learning and sharing their love of music with others. Stevenson says the new adult programs will offer community members an excellent chance to take a break from busy schedules and technology, reconnect with each other, and stimulate continued learning.

The Powers Harmony Chorale will focus on learning popular choral works and holiday music to prepare for the Belmont Center tree lighting and the Belmont Open Sings “Messiah” event in December. Sessions will be held on five Sunday evenings in the fall semester, with tuition covering admission to Belmont Open Sings on December 22. The first session is free and open to all interested adults on Sunday, November 10, 7:30-9:00 pm at Powers Music School, 396 Concord Avenue, Belmont. Registration is required – please call 617-484-4696.

Powers Harmony Chorale Director Kathryn Rosenbach says, “Singing together as a group is such a wonderful experience, with many added health benefits, including improved breath support and heightened mood elevation. This chorale will be a small chamber group, designed to give everyone an opportunity to enhance sight-reading skills, and develop new musical awareness, and just have fun singing together as a community."

Rosenbach brings 35 years of choral experience to the ensemble. She has conducted the Wellesley College Choir, the Genesee Community College choir and the Sharon Community Chorus, and is active as a teacher, pianist and composer.

The Powers Festival Orchestra, led by the award-winning American conductor Channing Yu, music director of the Mercury Orchestra and of Bay Colony Brass, explores baroque, classical, romantic, contemporary, and popular works in an intensive workshop environment. The ensemble rehearses Sunday evenings at Powers Music School, and new members on all orchestral instruments may still enroll.

"This is a group of adult musicians with an intense passion for music," says Yu. "Some are returning to instrumental studies after years or decades away, and quite a few others have recently begun studying a new instrument. Everyone is working hard to sharpen their ensemble-playing skills and musicianship, and I'm impressed by how much the group members have improved in such a short period of time. I anticipate that many will progress to playing in the community orchestras and bands in the area, and it's thrilling that our orchestra provides such a path for dedicated adult amateur musicians."

The creation of new programs at Powers arrives just in time for Powers Music School’s 50th anniversary celebrations in the spring and fall of 2014.

Says Stevenson, “For our 50th year, we are strongly encouraging anyone interested in learning an instrument or playing with an ensemble to make this the year they jump in.”

The Massachusetts Youth Symphony Project, Powers Festival Orchestra, and Powers Harmony Chorale are still accepting new students this fall. More information about the new programs can be found at http://www.powersmusic.org/orchestra and http://www.powersmusic.org/adult_programs.

For questions about orchestra auditions, please contact Director of Education Michelle Rush at mrush@powersmusic.org, or for registration questions, please contact Registrar Evan Louden at registrar@powersmusic.org or 617-484-4696.

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